Runaway chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sksquirrel, Feb 1, 2016.

  1. sksquirrel

    sksquirrel Hatching

    Jan 21, 2016
    Every weekend and days I'm home I let my chickens out to forage for themselves. As soon as they see me they gather at the door to the coop and can't wait to get out into the woods. I have 7 acres of wooded area they can free range. I have set up traps all around my property to trap skunks and raccoons. I started out last year with 8 chicks and they've matured to about 50 weeks. Last month while I let my young adult chickens free range they returned during mid day and were one short. I roamed my property and could not find any feathers or a carcass. So strange to lose a chicken without any signs. This chicken was an Australorp. The next day the same thing happened, I lost another Australorp. Now just this past weekend I let the remaining 6 chickens 2 R/I reds, 2 Silver Wyandots and 2 White Leghorns free range for the day. The leghorns are the dominate chickens so wherever they go the others follow. Well about mid afternoon I saw one leghorn in the front yard calling out for the others. I didn't pay no mind since they do this often. Then about 5:00pm only three chickens returned 1 leghorn and the 2 silver Wyandots. The other leghorn and the 2 R/I reds were missing. I searched my property far and wide and could not find any trace of them. I even checked the road which is over 600 ft away and there was no signs of any chickens getting run over. I searched the wooded property and there was nothing. I returned to the house. I ate dinner and forgot I left the door open to the coop. About 7:00pm (very dark) I remembered the coop door was open. I went out to close the door and found one of my R/I reds returned but was in sad shape. She looked like she'd been hiking all day long to get back to the coop. She was exhausted and lethargic. I watched her for a while and she didn't have the strength to roost on the perch some 18" above so I left her lay on the coop floor. A couple of times during the night I went out and poked her too see if she was still alive. She was slow to respond. The next morning she was in the run looking out. I said to my wife that the hen was looking a little depressed. I told her that the chicken had appeared to be pondering the previous days events and was despondent. She laid an egg so she appears to be recuperating but I'm still wondering what happened to the other chickens if this one was able to make it back. She sure had a strong will to survive and live. If anybody has experience something similar to this please let me know. I've never been able to find any evidence of the lost chickens. It's like they vanished in thin air.

  2. Paganrose

    Paganrose Songster

    May 23, 2010
    Albany,, Wisconsin
    Welcome to BYC!

    Sounds like you have a predator taking your chickens. Not all predators will leave evidence, some will carry away the whole bird to eat it somewhere safe. Seven acres of woods is a lot of space for a predator to hide in. Sorry I can't be of more help.

    I wouldn't let your chickens range out of sight- or build them a run.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Both coyotes and Fox can snatch a chicken without any signs, they take them far away to eat then return for more, I wouldn't let them free range anymore, or would I leave my coop open as both of those will come in your coop and finish the job.

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